Ukraine, Moldova, and Slovakia joined an ambitious initiative for a natural gas corridor connecting Greece with countries further north.
According to reports from Reuters, the move comes amidst Europe's heightened focus on securing alternative sources following Russia's invasion of Ukraine to diversify energy supplies and enhance regional security.
The Vertical Gas Corridor, originally conceived in 2016 by Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary, aims to enable bidirectional gas flow between participating nations. Joining the project expands its reach significantly, allowing gas from Greece to reach Moldova and underground storage facilities in Ukraine.
"The Vertical Corridor will now unite the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline and facilitate gas transport from Greece to Moldova and Ukrainian storage facilities," Moldova's Energy Ministry stated.
Representatives of the eight gas grid operators signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday, outlining their commitment to developing the necessary infrastructure for the corridor's activation.
"With Vertical Corridor participation, we anticipate supplying over 7 billion cubic meters of Romanian gas to Central Europe annually," said Dmytro Lyppa, head of Ukraine's transit operator.
He further revealed Ukraine's collaboration with Moldova to utilize additional capacity on the Trans-Balkan pipeline, potentially reaching 6 million cubic meters per day by year's end.
"Strengthening and enhancing the flexibility of regional gas systems is a top priority," emphasized Maria Rita Galli, CEO of Greece's DESFA gas operator.
The operators agreed to conduct a joint market test in July 2024 to determine capacity allocation at interconnection points.
Greece's upcoming floating gas storage terminal near Alexandroupolis will play a crucial role by enabling the regasification of liquefied natural gas for northward pipeline transport.
The Trans-Balkan pipeline previously transported Russian gas to the Balkans via Ukraine, Romania, and Moldova. However, its capacity has diminished since Gazprom diverted volumes to Turkey through the TurkStream pipeline in 2020.
The Vertical Gas Corridor initiative marks a significant step towards fostering energy independence and resilience in the region, mitigating reliance on a single supplier.
As Europe navigates the ongoing energy crisis, this collaborative effort signifies a commitment to securing reliable and diverse gas supplies for the future.